19 December 2010

Theory and practice of meditation III

This is part 3 of 3; part 1 is theory of how it works and why you might like to do it; part 2 is an explanation of my short daily meditation practice. Today I will describe a longer meditation practice which I cannot always fit into a daily schedule. This one takes me about forty minutes.

Step one is to sit still in a comfortable position with eyes closed. Breathe slowly and count, one count for each breath to one hundred. For each breath, I visualize a sphere which looks like, or almost like a billiard ball, with the number of the breath inside the little white circle area (like on a standard billiard ball that is numbered one to eight.) The spheres alternate on a period of ten in color and in spatial position. This sequence is patterned after a common representation of the Kabbalah Tree of Life.

1, 11, 21, 31, &c are a white sphere on the crown of my head;
2, 12, 22, 32, &c are a gray sphere on my right shoulder;
3, 13, 23, 33, &c are a black sphere on my left shoulder;
4, 14, 24, &c are a blue sphere on my right elbow;
5, 15, 25, &c are a red sphere on my left elbow;
6, 16, 26 &c are a yellow sphere on my crotch;
7, 17, 27, &c are a green sphere on my right fingertips;
8, 18, 28, &c are an orange sphere on my left fingertips;
9, 19, 29, &c are a purple sphere between my knees;
10, 20, &c are a brown sphere between my feet.

I used to play a lot of billiards so visualizing billiard balls is quite easy for me. A million other things do cross my mind during this forty or so minutes of meditation, but I try and hold my attention as closely as possible to my breath and to the billiard ball images. After, I make a note of how many minutes (37 - 51 is the range in recent memory), if I lost count at any point (if I lose the count, I just guess where I was and start forward from there--this is an excellent marker for me on how well I am attending to the meditation), if I had a hiccup or a cough or a saliva swallow or a saliva drool (I prefer not to, and sometimes I will stop meditating if any of these occur.)

Sometimes I will try and extend this to an even longer meditation. About once a month I will go for 200 breaths, and about once a year I will go for 300. 300 breaths is the longest I have ever gone. If I am going for a long meditation, I always stop if I lose count or if I hiccup or if I drool or if anything is not perfect.

1 comment:

M said...

On the surface it appears that Bruce Kumar Frantzis teaches a method similar to what you practice--or at least one of the methods you mention. As a Taoist meditation adept, Frantzis makes a large point of distinguishing between the Water and Fire methods of meditation. For instance, how to “dissolve blockages” that constrain one from energetically residing in certain regions of the physical body beyond a mental scan.

Frantzis also makes a point of understanding the difference between the forceful laser like manner typically associated with extreme concentration and that of meditation. Citing the Taoist metaphor of a stone moving through water, he contends that the mind must be focused yet extremely relaxed. The “mind is the water: soft yet capable of moving slowly and calmly or with great turbulence. The stone is the object of your concentration, which the water surrounds”.

At any rate, Frantzis is a very interesting human being to say the least. Fluent in Chinese and Japanese, he began full-time study in Taiwan in 1968, eventually landing in Beijing in 1983. His visceral and intellectual understanding of the Taoist tradition is unparalleled in the West,in my opinion.

Here is a clip of his teacher performing Ba Qua

Note the incredible arm and shoulder flexibility for a man of 83. Liu Hung Chieh was a Taoist lineage master. As an aside, I am not a groupie, just a former student(got in and out before he went big-time commercial) who appreciates the real deal.

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About Craig

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Houston, Texas, United States
I have been living in the lovely neighborhood of Spring Branch in the great city of Houston since late in 2005. I started out with the idea of making this blog about my life in this neighborhood. That did not last long. Right now I am posting every five days on the alternating topics of literature, philosophy, psychology, and metaphysics. This project has been ongoing since July 27, 2010 and I believe it will continue for at least a few more months.